Candidate Bob McDonnell, September 2009, on Governor Tim Kaine’s suggestion that state employees should contribute to their own retirement accounts:
These are tough economic times. I understand the governor has been forced to make difficult decisions to balance the budget. As Attorney General, I made tough choices as well, cutting the office’s budget by 14% over a two-year period. But the decision to suspend a scheduled payment to the state’s Retirement Fund is a budget gimmick that will reduce the solvency of the fund at a time when the funded reserve has already declined. This should be of concern to every state employee and retiree. The tough fiscal climate also is no excuse for breaking a longstanding commitment to the men and women who have dedicated their careers to the service of Virginia’s people. […] But penalizing hard working state employees, and breaking a promise made to them, when they started their careers, cannot be the solution. […] But we will not make government work better by pulling the rug out from under the very people who serve in state government and will be charged with implementing these much-needed reforms.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) proposed Thursday that 87,000 state employees begin making annual 5 percent contributions—the first in nearly three decades—to the state’s retirement fund as a way to shore up the commonwealth’s pension system.
“This is a start for fixing a pension system that has been out of whack for years and years and years,” McDonnell told reporters. “I will not pass on a broken system to another governor. I will make every effort this year to begin to fix this system.”
But, wait, there’s more:
McDonnell was criticized after his decision to dip into the retirement fund to close a budget gap, which also required billions in spending cuts. He told reporters Thursday that borrowing from the Virginia Retirement System—a maneuver he and the General Assembly jointly undertook just a few months ago—”frankly, wasn’t a good idea.”
He said that the money would be repaid and that the state had not siphoned enough to affect the already-underfunded system in the long haul.
It’s swell that the governor is having so many valuable growth experiences, but wouldn’t it be great if he’d done his learning on his own time (and dime)? I’m looking forward to his quiet surrender on fixing transportation and privatizing the liquor stores. No doubt he’ll learn a lot from the experience.